BABIES: 3D/4D baby ultrasounds -
 are they safe?

15 April 2019

Parents-to-be would agree that the safety of their unborn baby is of the utmost importance and priority. Despite this, many people head to non-diagnostic 3D/4D ultrasound centres without doing any research. What looks like a simple, fun procedure can actually have risks for your baby, especially when in the hands of untrained personnel.

What you should know:

1. Non-diagnostic ultrasound should not be performed until 10 weeks
The first 10 weeks of pregnancy is called the ‘embryonic period’ where delicate fetal tissues are developing and are at their most vulnerable. It’s a very fragile time for your baby and non-diagnostic, elective ultrasounds are not recommended.

2. Listening to your baby’s heart beat should not be done before 12 weeks 
To be able to hear your baby’s heart beat a Fetal Doppler is needed, which uses sound waves that can heat a baby’s tissue. Before 12 weeks of pregnancy, this may be harmful to your baby. Seeing your baby’s heartbeat from 10–12 weeks is perfectly safe but hearing it is not recommended.

3. Ultrasound scanning should not be for 
longer than 30 minutes at a time 
The only theoretical risk to a baby during scanning is that of raised temperature. Sound waves can cause a rise in temperature in the tissues they pass through. This rise in temperature is dependent on machine power and scan duration. To monitor this, all modern scanners track the temperature output and tell the Sonographer (who are trained to be aware of this) instantly about any change in tissue temperature so that they know that they are scanning within the range. Scanning machines that are older than five years often need their settings higher and will scan for longer to achieve similar results of younger machines.

4. All non-diagnostic centres should demonstrate the ‘ALARA’ principle 
(As Low As Reasonably Achievable)
It is important that the centre that is scanning is clinically safe for you and your baby. The ALARA principle ensures that your baby’s safety always comes first because the machine is set as low as possible and the sonographer is still able to achieve excellent quality images that you can treasure forever.

Questions to ask your 3D/4D Baby Ultrasound centre

  • What is the maximum amount of time 
they will scan your baby for? 
  • Do they scan pregnancies under 10 weeks?
  • Do they let you hear your baby’s 
heart beat before 12 weeks? 
  • Is the person scanning you and your 
baby a qualified sonographer who 
understands ultrasounds and what that 
means for your baby’s safety?
  • How old are their scanning machines 
that are being used?

 

By Denise Donati – sneak peek ultrasounds

Wth over 30 years’ experience in healthcare, Denise is a Registered Nurse and Midwife, owner of Sneak Peek Ultrasounds and co-owner of Fertility Solutions. For more information, go to sneakpeekultrasounds.com.au or call Sneak Peek Ultrasounds Buderim 07 5406 0689.

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Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City
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